International Blog Tour: Bloom (Review + Playlist)

Before Reading:

The graphic novels in my pantheon are at a staggering all time low. While I am a manga person, I never seem to have that spark of a connection with the illustrated novels out in the market. All of that changed in 2018 though. I was lucky enough to be able to read not one, but two graphic novels with LGBT themes. This novel was one of them. I was drawn to the calm exterior and the blue-green undertones, but I truly did not know what to expect with this book. It is becoming an ‘inside joke’ here that I really like judging books based on their covers, and in all honesty, this book became a subject of that partial indecisiveness.

Lucky for me, I was proven wrong and I found the perfect book to read on a hot November day.

29225589Title: Bloom

Author: Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau

Genre: Graphic Novel, LGBT, Sequential Art

ISBN: 1626726418

Date Published: 12th of February 2019

Series: None

Publisher: First Second

Buy it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

Add this book on Goodreads

Summary:

Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band―if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.

Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.

After Reading:

~ I’m a case of emotions ~ and again, it is unlikely for someone like me to finish a book within a day. I could have finished this book within a day, but I reckoned that it is also a book that I need to slowly dance through.

As a part of the tour, I received a physical ARC of this book. Huge thanks to Macmillan International for providing copies for the tour. This does not affect my review and all of the opinions and thoughts reflected here are my own.

Bloom made me realize that I am missing out on young adult graphic novels out on the market. In the literal sense, it is a refreshing read – a palette cleanser from the usual heavy books in the contemporary genre. Simply put, it is extremely easy to fall in love summery read.

Let me tell you of the tale of how I fell in love with a book. This story is simply one of the best as it satisfies my love for slow-burn romances, angst, family dynamics, and character development. The art style and the flow of the story can easily get you hooked, but it’s the self-discovery and the character interactions that makes you want to stay.

Our main characters Ari and Hector are easy to root for. There is that glimmer in their eyes when they do what they love. Ari is harder to grasp in general because of his stubbornness, but I loved him more than Hector (who I will get to in a minute). Probably due to my bias of his character, but Ari had more room to grow. He was lost, questioning if he really wants to pursue music or continue with the norm of baking for the family business. He’s lashing out like a normal teenager who makes incredulous decisions, which makes him relatable and dynamic. I don’t know if it’s a preference, but characters like Ari are the ones I usually resonate with the most. I can see why people may not like him as much as his love interest, but Ari being one realistic bean is just the cherry on top. He’s complex, he has a lot of emotions, and he has semi-horrible taste in friends. Yet what’s not to love? Hector on the other hand, is the lucky one who knows what he wants. But underneath that soft exterior is still a guy also discovering himself. It is so darn easy to live for the passion displayed by Hector’s eagerness and happy-go-lucky nature. Together, they make a wonderful team. The contrast and comparison in their personalities is what makes this book burst with life. The sequences where they are together can make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. What started out as a beautiful friendship turned out to be something more.

The art style is simply magnetic and mesmerizing, truthfully living up to the summer love contained in this book. I love the utilization of color to convey emotions. It is still evident when there’s a prominent reaction or feeling, which makes the art so much more powerful in connecting with its readers. I am honestly head-over-heels with the background, the little details, and its dialogue.

Bloom is not your ordinary graphic novel. It’s so much more. It’s not just a love story. It’s about family, friendship, exes, moving, and looking forward to what the future holds. It’s amazing how something so heartfelt can be considered cute and adorable. Props to both authors for creating an inspiring story.

Overall, Bloom is a fantastic story. It has heart and soul, key elements to note when reading a contemporary novel that will latch itself onto you. Delighfully charming on its own right, and with equally amazing style and art – the one book that you have to put on your radar in 2019. If you’re intrigued to read about two boys baking, exploring relationship dynamics with family and friends, and an amazing story set in the summer, this one’s for you.

Pro tip though: you may get a slight (or massive) craving for that delectable sour dough bread. Trust me, I was lucky enough to live near a bakery.

Know more about my rating system here.

Want a playlist to remind you about those hues? I made a playlist specifically for Bloom. Album art design included, as I made it prior to curating the playlist. Happy listening!

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Connect with Kevin!

Website || Twitter

Kevin Panetta is a Washington, DC based comic book and graphic novel writer. He has written licensed children’s comics from Boom! Studios. His first creator-owned series, Zodiac Starforce, debuted from Dark Horse Comics in August 2015.

200057865

Connect with Savanna!

Twitter || Instagram || Tumblr

Savanna Ganucheau is a comic artist from New Orleans, Louisiana with a BFA in Film from The University of New Orleans. She made her start in comics by self-publishing and selling her work in small comic book shops around New Orleans. Alongside creating the popular webcomic George and Johnny, Savanna’s artwork has appeared in notable publications including Jem and the Holograms, Adventure Time Comics, and Lumberjanes. Her first graphic novel Bloom is published by First Second.

A big thank you to JM at Book Freak Revelations for hosting this wonderful tour and Macmillan International for providing us with galleys.

Follow the rest of the tour here (list will be updated once the tour stops are posted):

Marie at Drizzle and Hurricane Books

Anna at Reading Peaches

Bianca at The Ultimate Fangirl (hey, you’re here)

JM at Book Freak Revelations

Kate at Your Tita Kate

Jessica at Endless Chapters

Kate at Reading Through Infinity

Jessica at Endless Chapters

 

Are you excited to read Bloom? Do you live for food in books? What are some of your favorite tropes to see in books?

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PH Blog Tour: Everlasting Nora

Before Reading:

There were a lot of thoughts that ran through my head before joining this tour. But there’s a part of me that won’t be sharing those today because it seems irrelevant when it comes to this particular book. Not going to lie, the subject matter itself is a bit delicate, at least with the concern of city overpopulation. Living in the city where this book is set makes it a much harder pill to swallow, because I cannot deny how much of this book is actually real. Manila is a small city, but the number of people living here is in ridiculous numbers. After all, it is the capital of the Philippines, and therefore a main hub for opportunity. Sure, it’s a beautiful city to live in. But if you consider that kids like Nora, the protagonist of this book, has to live in the conditions stated in this book – it makes you want to think and analyze.

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Title: Everlasting Nora

Author: Marie Miranda Cruz

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

ISBN: 0544530942

Date Published: 2nd of October 2018

Series: None

Publisher: Starscape

Buy it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Audible

Summary:

An uplifting middle-grade debut about perseverance against all odds, Marie Miranda Cruz’s debut Everlasting Nora follows the story of a young girl living in the real-life shanty town inside the Philippines’ North Manila Cemetery.

After a family tragedy results in the loss of both father and home, 12-year-old Nora lives with her mother in Manila’s North Cemetery, which is the largest shanty town of its kind in the Philippines today.

When her mother disappears mysteriously one day, Nora is left alone.

With help from her best friend Jojo and the support of his kindhearted grandmother, Nora embarks on a journey riddled with danger in order to find her mom. Along the way she also rediscovers the compassion of the human spirit, the resilience of her community, and everlasting hope in the most unexpected places.

After Reading:

There were moments while reading this book where I had to stop and breathe. There were a lot of moments where I just pause and take a break from reading because the scenes were emotionally hitting me and I’m in a public vehicle making a weird face to convey my true emotions. There was a lot to take in after finishing this story, and I love how there was a discussion guide ready in the copy provided to us for the tour. It really helped me put together what I wanted to say about this book.

Trigger Warnings: violence, child abuse, classism, extreme poverty / hunger, kidnapping, descriptions of blood and other serious injuries

It’s a probably a first, but I will be using mood boards to further illustrate what this novel has contained within its pages. I have to say that I may be a little bit biased (just a little) considering that this is set in the city I grew up in, and I may get a little bit too comfortable if I use words alone to further elaborate why this book is a must-read.

Let’s start with the technical aspects first. Marie Miranda Cruz’s writing was a little bit hard to get into at first, but as I grew to love Nora, it was endearing to read. Like I said in the beginning, it made me want to think and analyze. Marie writes with heart, which I think is very important when you’re writing a book that revolves around Filipino characters. Though I struggled, I was easily rewarded with this growing intensity of not knowing that I am slowly being engrossed into the story. The way Marie captured Manila and Nora’s way of life since her father died was eerily familiar in tone. The setting alone was enough for me to shed a tear or two. A sense of familiarity waved throughout the novel, and I didn’t have to think that hard to know what it was like to be in Nora’s shoes because it is already a reflection of what some communities look like here in the Philippines. It was clear to see that it was well-researched writing because it makes you ingest a heavy topic without a bad aftertaste of it being too preachy.

To give you a feel of what Nora is going through, let me tell this little piece of nugget: Every year on November 1st and 2nd for All Saints Day and All Souls Day, similar to Dia de los Muertos for Mexican and Latin American countries, we Filipinos gather in the cemetery and spend the day there. The place where Nora lives is ALWAYS featured in the news because it gets very crowded. As I have mentioned earlier, a lot of people live in Manila, so it makes sense that people would want to bury their loved ones somewhere near them. Manila North Cemetery houses a lot of the city’s dead population – people from all walks of life are buried there, from street vendors to previous presidents.

Related article: Manila North Cemetery, one of the oldest and biggest cemeteries in Metro Manila

But the cemetery also houses the living. In fact, there’s a community within it. There are a lot of factors why people chose to live there, but yes, it is true. Nora and Mama for example, had nowhere else to go, so they chose to live in the family mausoleum. Near them, there’s Nora’s friend Jojo and his lola who has lived in the cemetery ever since. Living there does not change their spirits in any way. I can go on and on about where this story is set, but it’s fair enough to note that the book is authentically set and it is as true as it can be.

Related article: Graveyard living: inside the ‘cemetery slums’ of Manila

Everlasting Nora’s plot was deeply intertwined with its characters and how they grew in the story. But in the middle of it all was Nora. She had a dynamic personality, and there were a lot of layers to her character. For one, she is a hopeful girl dreaming of a better future for Mama and herself. Her character was already someone you would want to root for till the end. But after her mother went missing, she became a better and stronger person. I have so much respect for this girl. Not only did she stay strong and brave, she mapped out what life she wants to have and how she will attain it without bringing other people down. I honestly also liked the character of Mama when I contemplated about my thoughts on this book. Though we never got her perspective and only saw her through Nora’s eyes, the way the author made her flawed made her embody a lot of Filipino mothers who are willing to do anything and everything just to give their child the quintessential Filipino upbringing. While there were certainly many more characters in this narrative, they all felt real. Even the antagonists of this novel felt close to home. They brought out the worst and best qualities that embodies the Filipino culture. Like for example: Lola Mercy, Jojo, Aling Lydia, and Nora’s community in the cemetery brought out the spirit of bayanihan, togetherness, and found families, while Lola Fely and Tiger brought out unimaginable counts of greed, crab mentality, and corruption.

Overall, Everlasting Nora is, how do I put this… very Filipino. I mean it in all good sense and it is meant to be a compliment. It captures the true essence of the Filipino spirit, reflected on each and every page. There’s this sense of familiarity to it, and never have I read middle grade novel where I fully know a character from head to toe. It is not a sad story, but a rather uplifting one. Nora’s journey to self-discovery with all of the challenges that she had to face were an evident reflection, but also something we should all look upon on with an open mind. As a reader, I want more stories like Everlasting Nora. As a reviewer, I found this book charming yet emotionally heartfelt. Definitely a must-read.

Huge thanks to Kate at The Backwards Bookshelf for letting me join this lovely tour, and for Marie Miranda Cruz for sharing Nora’s story to the world. To be able to read and promote such a story that strongly reflects the Filipino spirit is already amazing in on itself. I’m only hoping that we can have a more diverse set of stories such as this one that displays various experiences from different regions made available for Filipino readers.

Want to chat and discuss about Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz? Join us on December 16 at 8:00 PM (Philippine Standard Time)! Just follow the tag #EverlastingNoraPH and our host Kate at The Backwards Bookshelf.

So, what do you think? Want to give Everlasting Nora your seal of approval? What other Filipino middle grade novels can you recommend?

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PH Blog Tour: Wildcard by Marie Lu (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Easily one of the most anticipated sequels of the year, Wildcard by Marie Lu is the final book in the Warcross duology. With it’s fair share of virtual reality and technological marvels, the awaited finale is sure to bring a lot in the house. The technology is bigger, the stakes are higher, and our rainbow-haired gal takes on her biggest challenge yet.

While I will not be sharing my review, I will be sharing an excerpt below. Read on to get a grasp of what to expect in Wildcard.

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WildcardTitle: Wildcard

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Date Published: 18th of September 2018

Series: Warcross #2

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Buy it on: National Bookstore | Amazon | Audible | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | The Book Depository

Summary:

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems–and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

excerpt.jpg

1
 
Eight Days until the Warcross Closing Ceremony  
Someone is watching me.
I can feel it—the eerie sensation of being followed, an invisible gaze locked on my back. It prickles my skin, and as I make my way through Tokyo’s rain-soaked streets to meet up with the Phoenix Riders, I keep looking over my shoulder. People hurry by in a steady stream of colorful umbrellas and business suits, heels and oversize coats. I can’t stop imagining their downcast faces all turned in my direction, no matter which way I go.
Maybe it’s the paranoia that comes with years of being a bounty hunter. You’re on a crowded street, I tell myself. No one’s following you.
It’s been three days since Hideo’s algorithm was triggered. Technically, the world should now be the safest it’s ever been. Every single person who has used the new Henka Games contact lenses—even just once—should now be completely under Hideo’s control, rendered unable to break the law or harm another person.
Only the few who still use the beta lenses, like me, are unaffected.
So, in theory, I shouldn’t be worried about someone following me. The algorithm won’t let them do anything to hurt me.
But even as I think this, I slow down to stare at the long line wrapping around a local police station. There must be hundreds of people. They’re all turning themselves in to the authorities for anything and everything unlawful they’ve ever done, from unpaid parking tickets to petty theft—even murder. It’s been like this for the past three days.
My attention shifts to a police barricade at the end of the street. They’re directing us to detour down a different block. Ambulance lights flash against the walls, illuminating a covered gurney being lifted into the vehicle. I only need to catch a glimpse of officers pointing up at the roof of a nearby building before I figure out what occurred here. Another criminal must have jumped to their death. Suicides like this have been peppering the news.
And I helped make all of this happen.
I swallow my unease and turn away. There’s a subtle but significant blankness in everyone’s eyes. They don’t know an artificial hand is inside their minds, bending their free will.
Hideo’s hand.
The reminder is enough to make me pause in the middle of the street and close my eyes. My fists clench and unclench, even as my heart lurches at his name. I’m such an idiot.
How can the thought of him fill me with disgust and desire at the same time? How can I stare in horror at this line of people waiting in the rain outside a police station—but still blush at my dream of being in Hideo’s bed, running my hands along his back?
We’re over. Forget him. I open my eyes again and continue on, trying to contain the anger beating in my chest.
By the time I duck into the heated halls of a Shinjuku shopping center, rain is coming down in wavy sheets, smearing the reflections of neon lights against the slick pavement.
Not that the storm is stopping preparations for the upcoming Warcross closing ceremony, which will mark the end of this year’s games. With my beta lenses on, I can see the roads and sidewalks color-coded in hues of scarlet and gold. Each Tokyo district is highlighted like this right now, the streets shaded the colors of the most popular team in that neighborhood.
Overhead, a lavish display of virtual fireworks is going off, piercing the dark sky with bursts of colored light. Shinjuku district’s favorite team is the Phoenix Riders, so the fireworks here are currently forming the shape of a rising phoenix, arching its flaming neck in a cry of victory.
Every day over the next week or so, the top ten players of this year’s championships will be announced worldwide after a vote by all Warcross fans. Those ten players will compete in a final, all-star tournament during the closing ceremony, and then spend a year as the biggest celebrities in the world before they play again next spring, in the opening ceremony’s game.
Like the one I once hacked into and disrupted, that upended my entire life and landed me here.
People on the streets are proudly dressed up as their top-ten vote this year. I see a few Asher lookalikes sporting his outfit from our championship game in the White World; someone’s decked out as Jena, another as Roshan. Still others are arguing heatedly about the Final. There had obviously been a cheat—power-ups that shouldn’t have been in play.
Of course, I had done that.
I adjust my face mask, letting my rainbow hair tumble out from underneath my red raincoat’s hood. My rain boots squelch against the sidewalk. I have a randomized virtual face laid over my own, so at least people who are wearing their NeuroLink glasses or contacts will look at me and see a complete stranger. For the rare person who isn’t, the face mask should cover enough to make me blend in with everyone else wearing masks on the street.
Sugoi!” someone passing me exclaims, and when I turn, I see a pair of wide-eyed girls grinning at my hair. Their Japanese words translate into English in my view. “Wow! Good Emika Chen costume!”
They make a gesture like they want to take a photo of me, and I play along, putting up my hands in V-for-victory signs. Are you both under Hideo’s control, too? I wonder.
The girls bob their heads in thanks and move along. I adjust my electric skateboard strapped over my shoulder. It’s a good temporary disguise, pretending to be myself, but for someone used to stalking others, I still feel weirdly exposed.
Emi! Almost here?
Hammie’s message appears before me as translucent white text, cutting through my tension. I smile instinctively and quicken my steps.
Almost.
It would’ve been easier, you know, if you’d just come with us.
I cast a glance over my shoulder again. It would’ve definitely been easier—but the last time I stayed in the same space as my teammates, Zero nearly killed us in an explosion.
I’m not an official Rider anymore. People would ask questions if they saw us heading out as a group tonight.
But you’d be safer if you did.
It’s safer if I didn’t.
I can practically hear her sigh. She sends the address of the bar again.
See you soon.
I pass through the mall and out the other side. Here, the colorful blocks of Shinjuku shift into the seedy streets of Kabukichō, Tokyo’s red-light district. I tense my shoulders. It’s not an unsafe area—certainly not compared to where I came from in New York—but the walls are covered with glowing screens featuring the services of beautiful girls and handsome, spiky-haired boys, along with shadier banners I don’t want to understand.
Virtual models dressed in scanty outfits stand outside bars, beckoning visitors to enter. They ignore me when they realize my profile marks me as a foreigner and turn their attention to the more lucrative Japanese locals navigating the streets.
Still, I pick up my pace. No red-light district in the world is safe.
I duck into a narrow street on the border of Kabukichō. Piss Alley, so this cluster of little walkways is called. The Riders picked it for tonight because it’s closed to tourists during the Warcross championship season. Scowling bodyguards in suits stand at the entrances and exits of the alleys, shooing away curious passersby.
I take down my disguise for a second so they can see my real identity. One bodyguard bows his head and lets me in.
Both sides of the alleys are lined with tiny sake bars and yakitori stands. Through each of their fogged glass doors, I can see the backs of other teams huddled in front of smoking grills, arguing loudly at virtual projections on the walls showing interviews with players. The scent of fresh rain mixes with aromas of garlic, miso, and fried meat.
I pull off my raincoat, shake it out, and fold it inside out into my backpack. Then I head to the last stall. This bar is a little bigger than the others, facing a quiet alley blocked off on either side. Its doorway is lit by a row of cheery red lanterns, and men in suits stand in strategic positions around it. One of them notices me and moves aside, ushering me forward.
I walk under the lanterns and enter through the sliding glass door. A curtain of warm air envelops me.
Checked into Midnight Sense Bar!
+500 Points. Daily Score: +950
Level 36 |  N120,064
 
I find myself standing in a cozy room with a handful of filled seats arranged around a bar, where a chef is busy putting out bowls of ramen. He pauses to call out my arrival.
A round of greetings hits me as everyone turns in my direction.
There’s Hammie, our Thief, and Roshan, our Shield. Asher, our Captain, is sitting on one of the stools with his stylish wheelchair folded behind him. Even Tremaine, who technically plays for the Demon Brigade, is here. He keeps his elbows propped up on the bar as he nods at me through the steam rising from his bowl. He’s sitting away from Roshan, who’s fiddling with a bracelet of prayer beads on his wrist and making a point of ignoring his former boyfriend.
My team. My friends. The eerie feeling of being watched subsides as I take in their faces.
Hammie waves me over. I slide gratefully into the empty stool beside her. The chef puts down a bowl of ramen before me and steps out to give us privacy. “The whole city’s celebrating,” I mutter. “People have no idea what Hideo’s done.”
She starts pulling her curls tight into a thick pouf high on her head. Then she juts her chin at a virtual screen playing footage from the Final against the wall. “You’re just in time,” she replies. “Hideo’s about to make his announcement.”
We stare at the screen as Hammie pours me a cup of tea. It now shows a room of reporters with their faces turned toward a massive stage, all waiting impatiently for Hideo to arrive. Kenn, the Warcross creative director, and Mari Nakamura, Henka Games’ chief operating officer, are already there, whispering to each other.
The room on the screen suddenly bursts into commotion as Hideo walks onstage. He straightens the lapels of his suit jacket once as he strides over to join his companions, shaking hands as he goes with his usual cool, careful grace.
Even the sight of him onscreen feels as overwhelming as if he’d walked right into this bar. All I see is the same boy I’ve watched my whole life, the face I’d stop to look for at newsstands and take in on TV. I dig my nails into the counter, trying not to show how embarrassingly weak it makes me feel.
Hammie notices. She casts me a sympathetic glance. “No one expects you to be over him already,” she says. “I know he’s trying to take over the world and all, but he still rocks a suit harder than a Balmain catwalk.”
Asher scowls. “I’m right here.”
“I didn’t say I wanted to date him,” Hammie replies, reaching over to pat Asher’s cheek once.
I look on as Hideo and Kenn talk in low voices and wonder how much Kenn and Mari know about Hideo’s plans. Has the entire company been in on this all along? Is it possible to keep such a thing secret? Would that many people take part in something so awful?
“As you all know,” Hideo begins, “a cheat was activated during the Final of this year’s championship that benefited one team—the Phoenix Riders—over the other—Team Andromeda. After reviewing the matter with our creative team”—he pauses to glance at Kenn—“it seems the cheat was activated not by one of the players, but by an outside party. We’ve decided the best way to resolve this, then, is to hold an official rematch between Team Andromeda and the Phoenix Riders, four days from today. This will be followed by the closing ceremony four days later.”
An instant buzz of conversation fills the room at Hideo’s words. Asher leans back and frowns at the screen. “Well, it’s happening,” he says to us all. “An official rematch. We’ve got three days to get ready.”
Hammie slurps up a mouthful of noodles. “An official rematch,” she echoes, although there’s no enthusiasm in her voice. “Never happened in the history of the championships.”
“Gonna be a lot of Phoenix Rider haters out there,” Tremaine adds. Already, a few shouts of “Cheaters!” can be clearly heard from the other bars outside.
Asher shrugs. “Nothing we haven’t faced before. Isn’t that right, Blackbourne?”
Tremaine’s expression is blank. The excitement of the new game is lost on all of us as we continue to stare at the screen. A rematch isn’t the big news. If only those reporters knew what Hideo was really doing with the NeuroLink.
I’m tired of the horror in the world, he’d said to me. So I will force it to end.
“Well,” Roshan begins, rubbing a hand across his face, “if Hideo’s bothered by anything that’s happened in the last few days, he’s not showing it.”
Tremaine’s concentrating on something invisible in his view and tapping rapidly against the bar. A few weeks ago, I would’ve bristled at being in the same room as him. He still isn’t my favorite person, and I keep waiting for him to sneer and call me Princess Peach again, but for now he’s on our side. And we can use all the help we can get.
“Find anything?” I ask him.
“I dug up some solid numbers on how many people have the new lenses.” Tremaine sits back and huffs out a sigh. “Ninety-eight percent.”
I could cut the silence in here like a cake. Ninety-eight percent of all users are now controlled by Hideo’s algorithm. I think of the long lines, the police tape. The sheer scale of it makes me dizzy.
“And the other two percent?” Asher manages to ask.
“Is made up of anybody still using the beta test lenses,” Tremaine replies, “and who haven’t switched over yet. Those folks are safe for now.” He peers around the bar. “Us, of course, and a number of the official players, since we got the beta lenses before the full version went out. A lot of people in the Dark World, I bet. And the tiny number of people worldwide who don’t use the NeuroLink at all. That’s it. Everybody else is locked in.”
No one wants to add anything to that. I don’t say it out loud, but I know we can’t stay on the beta lenses forever. Word on the street is that those lenses will download a patch that converts them into algorithm lenses on the day of the Warcross closing ceremony.
That’s happening in eight days.
“Seven days of freedom left,” Asher finally says, voicing what we’re all thinking. “If you want to rob a bank, now’s your chance.”
I glance at Tremaine. “Any luck digging up more info about the algorithm itself?”
He shakes his head and pulls up a screen for all of us to see. It’s a maze of glowing letters. “I can’t even find the faintest trace of it. See this?” He stops to point at a block of code. “The main log-on sequence? Something should be here.”
“You’re saying it’s impossible that there’s an algorithm here,” I reply.
“I’m saying it’s impossible, yes. It’s like watching a chair float in midair without any wires.”
It’s the same conclusion I came up with over the past few sleepless nights. I’d spent them searching every crevice of the NeuroLink. Nothing. However Hideo is implementing his algorithm, I can’t find it.
I sigh. “The only way to access it might be through Hideo himself.”
On the screen, Hideo is answering questions from the press now. His face is serious, his stance easy, and his hair perfectly tousled. As put together as ever. How does he stay so calm? I lean forward, as if the few moments we’d had together in our brief relationship were enough for me to see what he’s thinking.
My dream from last night flashes through my mind again, and I can almost feel his hands running down my bare arms, his expression undone. I’m sorry, he’d whispered. Then, the dark silhouette watching me from the corner of the room. The glass all around us shattering.
“And what about you?” Tremaine says, snapping me out of my reverie. “Heard anything new from Zero? Have you contacted Hideo?”
I take a deep breath and shake my head. “I haven’t reached out to anyone. Not yet, anyway.”
“You’re not still seriously thinking about Zero’s offer, are you?” Asher has his head propped against one hand, and he’s looking warily at me. It’s the same expression he used to give me as a Captain, whenever he thought I wasn’t going to listen to his commands. “Don’t do it. It’s obviously a trap.”
“Hideo was a trap, too, Ash,” Hammie says. “And none of us saw that coming.”
“Yeah, well, Hideo never tried to blow up our dorm,” Asher mutters. “Look—even if Zero is serious about wanting Emi to join him in stopping Hideo, there’s got to be some strings attached. He’s not exactly a model citizen. His help might come with more problems than it’s worth.”
Tremaine rests his elbows against the counter. I’m still not used to seeing genuine concern on his face, but it’s comforting. A reminder that I’m not alone. “If you and I work together, Em, we can try to avoid Zero’s help. There have got to be hints about Sasuke Tanaka out there somewhere.”
“Sasuke Tanaka vanished without a trace,” Roshan says. His quiet voice is cool and cutting as he wraps a length of noodle around his chopsticks.
Tremaine glances at him. “There is always a trace,” he replies.
Asher speaks up before things turn more awkward between Roshan and Tremaine. “What if you contact Hideo first? Tell him you found out that his brother’s alive. You said he created all of this—Warcross, the algorithm—because of his brother, right? Wouldn’t he do anything for him?”
In my mind, I see Hideo look at me. Everything I do is because of him. He’d said that to me only a couple of weeks ago, in the steam of a hot spring, as we watched the stars wink into existence.
Even then, he’d been planning his algorithm. His words take on new meaning now, and I shrink inward, the warmth of that memory hardening into ice.
If Zero really is his brother,” I reply.
“Are you saying he isn’t? We all saw it.”
“I’m saying I can’t be sure.” I stir the noodles around my bowl, unable to work up an appetite.
Hammie tilts her head thoughtfully, and I can see the cogs of her chess mind working. “It could be someone who stole Sasuke’s identity. It could be someone trying to throw people off his trail by using a dead boy’s name.”
“Ghosting,” I murmur in agreement. I know the term for it because I’ve done it before.
“Emi can’t tell Hideo something this big if it might not even be true,” Hammie continues. “It could make him do something unpredictable. We need proof first.”
Roshan suddenly gets up. His chair scoots back with a grating clatter against the floor. I glance abruptly up to see him turning his back to us and heading out of the bar through the sliding door.
“Hey,” Hammie calls out. “You okay?”
He pauses to look back at us. “Okay with what? That we’re all sitting here, talking about the technicalities of how Emi should throw herself into a situation that might kill her?”
The rest of us halt in our conversation, words hanging unspoken in the air. I’ve never heard real anger in Roshan’s voice before, and the sound seems wrong.
He looks around at his teammates before letting his eyes settle on me. “You don’t owe Hideo anything,” he says softly. “You did what you were hired to do. It’s not your responsibility to dig deeper into this—into Zero’s past or what happened between him and Hideo or even what he plans on doing to Hideo.”
“Emi’s the only one who—” Asher begins.
“Like you’ve always looked out for what she needs,” Roshan snaps back. My eyebrow raises in surprise.
“Roshan,” Asher says, watching him carefully.
But Roshan tightens his lips. “Look—if Zero’s team is still set on stopping Hideo, then let him do it. Let the two of them go at each other. Step back and remove yourself from this. You don’t have to do it. And none of us should be convincing you of anything different.”
Before I can respond, Roshan turns away and heads out into the night air. The door slides shut behind him with a sharp bang. Around me, the others let out an inaudible breath.
Hammie shakes her head when I look at her. “It’s because he’s here,” she mutters, nodding to Tremaine. “He throws Roshan off.”
Tremaine clears his throat uncomfortably. “He’s not wrong,” he finally says. “About the danger, I mean.”
I stare at the space where Roshan had been and picture his prayer beads sliding against his wrist. In my view, I can still see the last message from Zero sitting in my archives, the letters small and white and waiting.
My offer to you still stands.
Hammie sits back and crosses her arms. “Why are you going on with this?” she asks me.
“Is the fate of the world not enough of a reason?”
“No, there’s more to it than that.”
Irritation rises in my chest. “This is all happening because of me—I was directly involved.”
Hammie doesn’t back down from the edge in my words. “But you know it’s not your fault. Tell me—why?
I hesitate, not wanting to say it. In the corner of my view, I see Hideo’s profile haloed in green. He’s awake and online. It’s enough to make me want to reach out and Link with him.
I hate that he still has this pull on me. After all, everyone has had that one person they can’t help but obsess over. It’s not like I haven’t enjoyed flings that came and went in the span of a few weeks. And yet . . .
He’s more than a fling or a bounty or a mark. He’s forever bound to my history. The Hideo who has stolen the world’s free will is still the same Hideo who grieved his brother so deeply that it left a permanent thread of silver in his dark hair. The same Hideo who loves his mother and father. The same Hideo who once lifted me out of my darkness and dared me to dream of better things.
I refuse to believe that he’s nothing more than a monster. I can’t watch him sink like this. I keep going because I need to find that boy again, the beating heart buried underneath his lie. I have to stop him in order to save him.
He was once the hand that pulled me up. Now I have to be his.
***
By  the  time  we  leave  the  bar,  it’s  well  past  midnight,  and  the pouring rain has dwindled to a fine mist. Some people still dot the streets. The first two all-star players have just been announced, and virtual figures of them now hover under every streetlight in the city. 
 
HAMILTON JIMÉNEZ of USA | PHOENIX RIDERS
PARK JIMIN of SOUTH KOREA | BLOODHOUNDS
 
Hammie barely glances at the images of her best in-game moves now dancing below the light posts. “You should head back with us,” she says, eyeing the neighborhood.
“I’ll be fine,” I reassure her. If someone really is following me, best not to make it so that they’re following my teammates, too.
“It’s Kabukichō, Em.”
I give her a wry smile. “So? Hideo’s algorithm is running on most of these people now. What’s there to be afraid of?”
“Very funny,” Hammie responds with an exasperated lift of her eyebrow.
“Look, we shouldn’t all be traveling together. You know that makes us too tempting a target, regardless of the algorithm. I’ll call you when I’m in back in my hotel.”
Hammie hears the note of finality in my voice. Her lips twist in frustration, but then she nods and starts to walk away. “Yeah, you better,” she says over her shoulder, waving her hand at me as she hurries off.
I watch her join the others as they head toward the subway station, where a private car waits for them. I try to picture each of them before they were famous, the first times they arrived in Tokyo, whether or not they felt invisible enough to take the subway. Whether they felt alone.
When my teammates disappear into the haze of rain, I turn away.
I’m used to traveling by myself. Still, my solitude feels sharper now, and the space around me seems emptier without my teammates. I shove my hands back into my pockets and try to ignore the virtual male model that now saunters up to me with a smile, inviting me in English into one of the host clubs that line the street.
“Nope,” I reply to him. He vanishes immediately, then resets at the entrance of the club and looks for another potential customer.
I tuck the rest of my hair completely under my hood and keep going. Just a week ago, I probably would’ve been walking with Hideo beside me. His arm wrapped around my waist, his coat over my shoulders. He might’ve been laughing at something I said.
But I’m on my own here, listening to the lonely splash of my boots in the dirty street puddles. The echo of water dripping from signs and overhangs keeps distracting me. It sounds like someone else’s footsteps. The feeling of being watched has returned.
A static buzz vibrates in my ears. I pause for a moment at an intersection, tilting my head this way and that until it stops.
I glance again at Hideo’s green-haloed icon in my view. Where is he now, and what is he doing? I imagine contacting him, his virtual form appearing before me, as Asher’s question rings in my ears. What if I did tell him about Zero’s connection to his brother? Would it be so bad to see what happens, even without being entirely sure?
I clench my teeth, annoyed with myself for thinking of excuses to hear his voice. If I just give myself enough distance from him and focus on this whole thing like it’s a job, then maybe I’ll stop wanting to be near him so much.
The static buzzes in my ear again. This time I halt and listen carefully. Nothing. Only a few people are on the street with me now, each a nondescript silhouette. Maybe someone’s trying to hack me. I start an inspection of my NeuroLink system to make sure everything’s in order. Green text floats past my view, the scan looking normal.
Until it skips over running a diagnostic on my messages.
I frown, but before I can examine it closer, all the text vanishes from my view. It’s replaced by a single sentence.
I’m still waiting, Emika.
Every hair on the back of my neck rises. It’s Zero.

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Marie Lu is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Young Elites, as well as the blockbuster bestselling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles with her illustrator/author husband, Primo Gallanosa, and their dogs.

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Win a copy of Wildcard by Marie Lu! Click the giveaway tag or here.

Huge thanks to Rafael at The Royal Polar Bear Reads for letting me join this blog tour and for Penguin Random House in providing copies for the tour. You are all amazing. *hugs*

Follow the rest of the tour here:

September 3 : 
September 4 :
Mary Jane @ The Book Dragon
September 5 :
Nikki @ Book Allure
Avy Marielle @ The Reading Fangeek
September 6 :
Soleil @ Queen Soleil
September 7 :
Floricci @ Wanderlust Reader
September 10 :
Kat @ Kat Reads PH
September 11 :
Jonathan @ Wander with Jon
September 12 :
Jenny @ Levicorps Blog
September 13 :
Carmel @ Bookable Reads
September 14 :
Myrth @ Cliste Belle
*will be updating when the tour stops are completed.

Are you excited for Wildcard?

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Blog Tour: The Way You Make Me Feel

Before Reading:

To be honest, I judged a book by its cover again. I skimmed the synopsis and then just said to myself, “Hey, this sounds like an interesting read.” Despite not having read Maurene Goo’s novel I Believe In A Thing Called Love, I have heard nothing but praises from my close friends who have read it. It’s been a trend with me nowadays; reading an author’s latest book. But as they say, you’ll never know until you decide to do it. That’s why I joined this lovely blog tour hosted by Tin at The Book Maiden.

Little did I know that I was up for an amazing summer filled with romance, food trucks, and FOOD. Gosh darn it.

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cover (1)Title: The Way You Make Me Feel

Author: Maurene Goo

Genre: Contemporary

Age Bracket: Young Adult

Date Published: 8th of May 2018

Series: None

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc.

Buy it on: Barnes & Noble| AmazonBook Depository

Summary:

From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

After Reading:

Woah hey there. Hold your horses because wow. That was certainly refreshing. It’s like drinking extra cold coconut juice on a hot summer day. The Inside Out voices in my head are probably going at it right now. Alright, let’s get into it.

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So what did I feel while reading The Way You Make Me Feel? Well, it made me feel a lot of things right at the beginning. Readers won’t know what will hit them, because Clara Shin is a force to be reckoned with. Rose Carver should know, because she has been a victim of Clara’s shenanigans since who knows when. But they still went at it and got to each other’s throats. Thus, our tale takes on the summer heat and took advantage of its marvelous LA setting.

The Way You Make Me Feel is definitely a character-driven story, (if you could also call it food-centric, I would also approve) as it really focused on the development of everyone. Despite this, Clara still takes hold of the narrative. While I prefer Rose (we’ll talk more about her later) over Clara, there were moments in the story where I just couldn’t help but admire this girl’s spunk. She has a cool sense of humor and a witty spirit. There were times where I had to compose myself because of her funny remarks. I can see why someone would go head over heels for her. *cough* Hamlet *cough* Though I found her attitude and personality annoying at first, her true intentions and heart full of compassion made me root for her till the end.

Clara’s relationship with her parents, particularly with her dad, became one of the firm grounds of which the book stands on. Adrian is such a cool Pai, and Clara is lucky to have him. (I mean, I also want my dad to cook kimchi but you don’t see me complaining.) But despite his cool exterior, Adrian is a loving yet stern Pai who only wants the best for his daughter. There is no doubt that he loves Clara very much, and cares deeply about her and the future she has to face. Do we give out awards for best dads in literature? Adrian is a really strong candidate because not only does he run the coolest Korean-Brazilian fusion truck, but he does it in style and he still has the time to be Clara’s loving Pai. He deserves all of the happiness in the world.

This story would not be complete without Rose Carver and Hamlet Wong. Rose, being Clara’s rival and Hamlet as her genuine lover. Before connecting with Clara, I already had a soft spot for Rose. I was actually rooting for her, because in real life, Clara is this person who I would clash with if I ever meet someone like her. Rose had her reasons, mainly because her family raised her to become a seasoned player with a bright future ahead of her. She is pretty cool to begin with, and her chemistry with Clara is something readers should anticipate to develop while reading. Hamlet, on the other hand, came like the wind. He’s just so perfect. Like a Disney prince, he comes in sweeping our main girl off her feet. I wasn’t quite comfortable with the pace of their romance, but they have their moments. It’s not at all bad, but it was rather quick. They were cute together, and having Hamlet around will let the readers unveil another layer to Clara’s character.

In summary, The Way You Make Me Feel can and will make you feel a whirlwind of emotions. It’s a wonderful book, perfect enough to be read during the summer with its swift-paced writing and agile characters. It’s a beautiful story that lovingly highlights family, friendships, summer love, and food (YES, the food). Highly recommended to readers who would love to spice up their summer TBRs with a kick-ass leading lady who has deep love for Korean-Brazilian cooking.

P.S. Prepare your wallets because I swear, after you read this book, you will ridiculously crave for Korean/Brazilian food. Honestly, I just want to knaw on some bulgogi and rush to the nearest Korean barbecue place. I also bribed my mom to buy tortilla and some fresh tomatoes.

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

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Maurene goo

Maurene Goo grew up in a Los Angeles suburb surrounded by floral wallpaper and piles of books. She studied communication at UC San Diego and then later received a Masters in publishing, writing, and literature at Emerson College. Before publishing her first book, Since You Asked, she worked in both textbook and art book publishing. She also has very strong feelings about tacos and houseplants and lives in Los Angeles.

Now look what we have here! A playlist for The Way You Make Me Feel featuring summer loving songs to get you in the mood while reading. I hope you like the song selection. 😉

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(Win a hardbound copy of The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo [open intl])

Again, huge thanks to Tin at The Book Maiden for hosting this blog tour with Macmillan, who were kind to send us review copies.

Now, are you excited to read The Way You Make Me Feel?

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PH Blog Tour: It Only Happens In The Movies (Review, Playlist + Giveaway)

Before Reading:

This was me when I saw this book randomly popping out of timeline on Twitter. “A Holly Bourne book? WHERE? DUDE, GIVE ME THE BOOK ALREADY! WHAT DO I DO TO GET IT?” A mistake that my past self has made is to not prioritize Holly’s book. When she released her Normal series, there was probably something wrong with me. But when this one came out, there was a rush to it. You know, like that bit from It where Georgie hesitates first but then grabs the freakin boat anyway?

There was a bit of a drought between reading It Only Happens In The Movies and The Manifesto On How to Be Interesting, the latter I read back in 2015. Got sidetracked in 2016, because there was this monster in my head that felt that I was getting too old to relate to Holly’s books. Well, ladies and gents, that is all about to change. In a good world, romance is like the movies. *snorts* HAHAHAHA SURE. Whatever you say, buddy. Like that’s true. Like I can read 3 books a day. Sure.

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OnlyInTheMovies CoverTitle: It Only Happens In The Movies

Author: Holly Bourne

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Date Published: 1st of October 2017

Series: None

Publisher: Usborne Publishing

Buy it on: AmazonKobo | iBooks | Book Depository | Waterstones

Summary:

Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…

The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.

After Reading:

HOLD MY BEER. THIS BOOK IS LEGIT. Holly, I don’t know if you read reviews but just so you know, I love you. You broke my heart but thank you. I needed this book because it matched what I felt. Not physically, but emotionally. I may not be good at acting, involved with the drama club, or already had a love life for that matter. But Audrey speaks to my bitter soul. Girl has spunk, and she imperfectly gets me. Brb, crying like an idiot for a book that spoke to my soul.

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Great. Now I have to use coherent sentences. I will do my best. Wish me luck.

So dear reader, do you know what only happens in the movies? Actually, if I really think about it hard enough, it also happens in those super cheesy romance novels. I know you’re thinking of an example right now, and don’t worry because I am not judging you. I have my fair share of those. But back to the main point. The only thing that happens in the movies is the exaggeration of action, emotion, and impact to make it look human, when it’s actually not. So where does this book fit in the context, then? And where the heck am I going with this?

In hindsight, those qualities are also contained within the pages of It Only Happens In The Movies. You might be thinking that this will be your typical contemporary romance read. In a way, because it does give you the feels. But at the same time, it hits you right in the face with the reality. That is the reason why I love this book. It is blunt, it describes the proper emotions in the right tone, and I grew to love it as the story progressed. It suddenly clings to you, like an accidental perfume spray. (I don’t know why I went with this comparison but I hope it made sense.) And you get why things are like this and that, similar to romance movies and dramas where you just love the direction it went into. Add in a writing style that figuratively glues your eyes on each and every page, and you got yourself in for a ride. But is it the same thing as your regular contemporary romance? Of course not. And if you’re a film buff like me, all of the movie references can make you die and fly to geek heaven. A joke, but still, it’s just a delight.

It’s the same for Audrey, our main character. In every flip of the page, she grows and grows comfortable in her own train of thought. *For one, I didn’t hate Audrey when the book started and that already guarantees A++ points. She blossoms (literally) into a character that one can learn from. Personally speaking, I love how her character was handled. There were a lot of moments where I just want to scream “Girl, how am I relating to you so much? You get me! I wish you were real!” She’s imperfect. She makes the tough decisions. She loves, but she realizes what’s important. She challenged the norm of misogynistic standpoints. And she also has a thing for the media. I honestly was not expecting to find myself in the story, but I did. Honestly, you go, girl. Just… high praise for you and what you believe in. Make your voice loud because you deserve to be heard. PREACH TO THE HIGH HEAVENS.

*Bianca’s note: I have a history with reading dialogue lead by a female MC that makes me want to rip their heads off. I am only taking precautions. If I like how they talk, then I know it’s good. Sorry not sorry, but it’s true in some cases. Like I know, yeah you go girl. But sometimes, “No girl. You don’t go. Sit down because you need be lectured.” Carry on, child.

I love that the focus was on Audrey and Audrey alone, but it dabbled with situations that need to be challenged, such as consent, and literally everything that the movies have sugarcoated for us. Why can’t guys just love girls for what they are? Not the “you’re not like other girls” crap. And when picking top kisses, why are there no LGBTQIA+ kisses besides Brokeback Mountain? Plus, do why does the movie end after the kissy stuff?

So to sum it all up: Yes, I love this book. Yes, you should read it as well. Yes, of course I recommend it. It is a must-read, and the contemporary rage on this one is off the flipping charts. Just pick it up and thank me later. Oh, and Holly Bourne too because she is just the best. She also deserves a “You go, girl!” shout out more than anyone else for conjuring books that speak loud and clear, powerful to bend the constructed wall of ridiculousness that is sexism.

Oh, and zombies…

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

Surprise! I made a playlist in the spur of the moment. These songs honestly just remind me of Audrey. I hope you guys like it. It only has 10 tracks at the moment, so feel free to add more empowering songs that remind you of It Only Happens In The Movies.

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Holly Bourne

Holly Bourne writes YA novels and blogs about feminist issues. Her favourite things to complain loudly about are: the stigma of mental health, women’s rights, and the under-appreciation of Keanu Reeves’ acting ability.

Holly’s first two books, Soulmates and The Manifesto on How to be Interesting, have been critically acclaimed and translated into six languages. The first book in the ‘Normal’ series, Am I Normal Yet?, has been chosen as a World Book Night book for 2016 and has inspired the formation of Spinster Clubs around the country.

Before becoming a full-time author, Holly was editor and relationship advisor for a charity website.

Connect with Holly!

Blog | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

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Up for grabs! Win a copy of It Only Happens In The Movies + Holly Bourne badges. PH only giveway though so sorry international peeps.

Huge thanks to Erika from The Nocturnal Fey for letting me join this tour and for Usborne Publishing in sponsoring the tour.

My review is an honest opinion, and I reviewed this book wholeheartedly and unbiased.

Question Time: What other books by Holly Bourne have you read? What books that tackle cinematic tropes have you read? Does your love story resemble a movie? Pray, do tell. 

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PH Blog Tour: Forest of A Thousand Lanterns (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Truth be told, I picked this book up on a whim to see what all the hype is about. I have not read a lot of retellings. The last one was probably Cinder, and I read that a year ago. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns offers a unique retelling of the Evil Queen. And truth be told, this book is something of it’s own. While I have decided to share an excerpt instead, this book has it’s share of twists and turns that will make you want to stay until it is finished.

Huge thanks to Erika from The Nocturnal Fey for letting me join this blog tour and Penguin Random House for sponsoring the tour.

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Forest of A Thousand Lanterns CoverTitle: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Author: Julie C. Dao

Genre: Fantasy, Retelling

Date Published: 10th of October 2017

Series: Rise of the Empress #1

Publisher: Philomel Books

Buy it on: Amazon| Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | Book Depository

Summary:

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

Excerpt from Chapter 11:

“You do not sleep well.” That ancient voice, like leaves of autumn and snow in winter. The tengaru queen approached, her body so frail it seemed transparent. In the dark, with her horns and tail less defined, anyone might think her simply a small, old horse. But there was no mistaking the human awareness in those eyes.

“I’ve been dreaming, that’s all.”

“That’s all? Isn’t that everything?” The queen’s fathomless gaze took her in. “You interest me. You are divided. I knew it as soon as I saw you.”

“Divided?”

“Look at yourself in the water, and perhaps you will understand better.

”Slowly, Xifeng bent over her reflection in the pond, her hair spilling over one shoulder. In the moonlight, she could only see the right half of her face. The other half lay in shadow, the eye dark and wild as the night.

“You have two faces. Two beings live within you, struggling for control. One has a heart that thrives in darkness and feeds on the pain of weaker souls. The other longs to stretch a hand to the light, to live and love as others do. Have you never sensed this?”

Xifeng stared into the star-scattered water at her own face: one half bright, the other hidden, unknowable. Sweat bloomed on her forehead as she placed a hand below her heart. The creature was still and silent now, but she knew how it could come alive, writhing within the prison of her body.

“Warriors kill every day.” She pictured the bloodshed on the forest path: Shiro stabbing the scythe-wielder and Wei beheading him with one sweep of his arm. “Why are they not divided, as I am? Why is it my fate to have this creature? The cards tell me I have a destiny beyond all others, but . . .”

“It is not an honor,” the queen said sharply, and Xifeng turned to her, startled and chastened. “Your . . . aunt has done more harm than good in filling your head with this destiny. No, it is not a lie. You are indeed bound for the glory she foresees, if you choose that path. But isn’t it better not to know? Isn’t it better to wake up each day, living for the present rather than waiting for the future?”

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Julie C. Dao

Julie C. Dao is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England.

Connect with Julie:

Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Win a copy of Forest of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (PH only)

Here are the bloggers participating in the tour (I will be updating this post once their respective posts are up.)

Erika from The Nocturnal Fey

Rafael from The Royal Polar Bear Reads

Nicay from The Nerdy Side of a Queen

Danielle from dmcireads

Cam from Camillea Reads

Carmel from Bookablereads Book Review

Abigail from Reading Flamingo

Imo from Amidst the Pages

Danica from The Hogsmeade Reader

Ella from The Purple Nightingale

Joel from Descendant of Poseidon Reads

Karina from Afire Pages

Elena from The Queen Reads

Hana from The Broke Bibliophile

Have you read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns yet? Tell me all about your thoughts in the comments below.

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PH Blog Tour: Warcross by Marie Lu

(I came back from the dead for this.)

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C: > Initiate Warcross review post

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Hello. It has been a while. I’m just giving you a glimpse of my system glitch before I wrote this review. The brain cells are a little bit rusty. Wait, I am making so many references right now and that is just plain weird. So to catch on, a moment of silence for a few fangirl noises:

DROP EVERYTHING. READ WARCROSS. RIGHT NOW. DON’T HESITATE.

Before Reading:

Despite starting the year off with a rocky 3 stars, I decided to give Marie Lu another shot. I have read The Young Elites from her, but my feelings were stuck in the ‘ in between ‘. But when it came to Warcross, the inner musings of my brain decided that it wants to ingest it like an eagle hungry for a monkey. I did not even think. I went for it head on. I have no idea why I’m word vomiting like this. (Probably due to the fact that I just rose from the grave.)

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29385546Title: Warcross

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Science Fiction

Date Published: 12th of September 2017

Series: Warcross #1

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Buy it on: Amazon| National Bookstore | Fully Booked

Summary:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

After Reading:

*sigh* Oh wait no, wrong emotion. Wait, I don’t even know what I want to feel because Marie Lu has finally won me over. Something else entirely, but still! I am trying to be as vague as possible, but plot twists can make anyone go nuts. Luckily, I braced myself for this kind of impact. So let’s go through with this.

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To be honest with you lot, I entered the world of Warcross without knowing anything about it. Despite the hype surrounding it online, I drowned everything out. I only knew three things before I started reading Warcross:

  • It is written by Marie Lu.
  • There’s a game involved.
  • 3D stuff?

Even the last part had a question mark because I had to assume that three dimensional objects were involved because of the multicolored cover. If I knew more, it would probably take me a lot more convincing to read it. But here we are. I went into it blind. And praise to the heavens, it was probably one of the best decisions that I have made in months. MONTHS. For blogging reasons, obviously.

And there is so much more to talk about. Since I have a background on animation and information technology, all the talk about virtual reality and the NeuroLink made me all giddy. With the technology we have today, it felt like Warcross can happen in the near future. If you ask me if Warcross is possible, I would not hesitate to say “bloody hell, yes.” Why? The vivid imagery that Warcross has presented captured my heart. It reminded me of Sword Art Online, but the only comparison that I could point out is the technology that they both possess. Both worlds deal with virtual reality, but in this case, Warcross is much more advanced. SAO requires its players to have the gear to experience the virtual world, much like the VR headsets made by Oculus and Samsung today. Warcross however, only requires a pair of glasses. It is so simple, yet realistically complex in many ways. There is so much to explore in the alternate reality that Marie Lu has created. The setting was brilliant and edgy, basically a science fiction enthusiast’s dream. (I mean, just setting it in Tokyo had me sold. Those who petition to not let Hollywood get this and make it an anime instead, say “aye”?) But anything powerful has its downside. The dark part of Warcross is sinister and twisted, but it also contains the most interesting parts of the tale.

And of course, it’s not just about the game. Warcross is filled with a colorful cast. An addition to the many badass ladies of young adult fiction is Emika Chen, a bounty hunter hailing from New York. I was immediately drawn to her, due to her impressive skills when it comes to coding. I have absolute respect for girls who code, and Emika is such a boss at what she does. Despite her grief and misfortunes, she faces the world head on. Her self-discovery in this book is delightful to read, and every task she accomplishes makes me want to scream like a proud mom. (Oh, the irony.) Did she really need a love interest? Maybe not. I also found myself fancying Hideo Tanaka, the elusive and dashing creator of Warcross in the first part of the book. But the more I knew about him, the more I drifted apart from his character. Not that it’s a bad thing, but he just felt off for me.

(Funny story: I actually thought that the main lead of the series will be a guy. And right now, you’re probably saying “THIS IS WHY WE READ SUMMARIES AT THE BACK FIRST, BIANCA.”)

While I was not a fan of the romance entangled within it’s pages, I definitely enjoyed the team dynamics and the thrill of the game itself. The foundation of the games lies on teamwork, with each player having a role vital to the team’s success. I will not spoil the placement of the teams but key players that has so much passion for Warcross managed to get their feelings across to me. I was hooked by each players’ dedication and determination to win. I easily rooted for the main team, and maybe I may have wished that there were more scenes concerning the games rather than the scenes filled with love. *pukes*

Warcross has reaffirmed me that I have a soft spot for the science fiction genre. It never ceases to amaze me, and it continues to baffle me on how writers come up with amazing alternate realities close to our current timeline. But the real winner here is Marie Lu. Her writing style literally never lets you take your eyes off each page. The fast-paced intensity of every single chapter can leave you on your tiptoes. Blink once and you might actually miss something. It is easy to submerge oneself into Warcross, and quite frankly, leaves you craving for more. Where’s the sequel already?

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

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Marie Lu is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Young Elites, as well the blockbuster selling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and one Pembroke Welsh corgi.


Thank you so much to Rafael from The Royal Polar Bear Reads for hosting this blog tour. I cannot emphasize my sincerest thanks to you for giving me the opportunity to join this tour despite my lack of presence here. I consider this as a power-up, and I will use it wisely starting today. Also, massive thanks to Penguin Random House for providing copies for the tour. You guys are more awesome than the glasses. *winks*

End scene. Now, how about that fangirls and fanboys? Consider picking up Warcross today. (Ughh, I sound like a commercial. This is what advertising does to you.)

Want to fangirl/fanboy about Warcross?

What other books by Marie Lu have you read?

Am I back from the dead for real?

Let’s chat! Talk Warcross with me!

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PH Blog Tour: The Upside of Unrequited

Hello everyone! Welcome to your first stop for The Upside of Unrequited PH Blog Tour hosted by Jasmine at Jasmine Pearl Reads. It is an honor to be the first one to review this book in all of its glory. So let’s start this tour with a bang.

The upside is that I believe that this book stood out as a book that matters, especially in the society we live in today. I want to stress that in this review. But first, a few fangirl moments.

Before Reading:

BLESSED BE THE BOOK GODS. The news is too good to be true! I get to read The Upside of Unrequited early. And why do I feel like it is the story of my unrequited life? Wait… should I prepare tissues? I’m not ready for this. But no… I AM. Let’s just get to reading.

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Cover-Reveal-The-Upside-Of-Unrequited-LargeTitle: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Year Published: 11th of April 2017

Series: None

Publisher: Balzer & Bray / Harper Teen

Source: Paperback, provided for the tour

Rating:  4.5/5 stars

Buy it on: Amazon | TBD

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

After Reading:

Yes, you can say there were tears. AND IT WAS BLOODY 3 AM. Do you know how hard it is to render 3D animation misty eyed? No, it’s not hard. It’s just that the progress bar is all blurry. BUT STILL. THIS BOOK. MOLLY, YOU ARE LOVELY. ALWAYS BELIEVE THAT.

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The Upside of Unrequited is a character-driven story that focuses on Molly. She is a big girl who is insecure and careful. But because of that factor, it makes her real.

Why does The Upside of Unrequited matter?

It matters because it lays pressing issues on the table. First, is the feeling of what it is like to have someone you admire returning your feelings back. (I know, I said feelings a lot.) Conveying the depth that lies within the unrequited is no easy task, but the beautiful prose within was enough to tug heartstrings. I can testify to that, since compared to Molly’s 27, I am probably in a predicament that is much worse. The emotions were swirling, and it felt human. I wanted to just jump in that universe and give Molly the biggest hug. Having the feeling of something unrequited is probably one of biggest pains anyone can feel. But yes, this book has the upside to it all.

It matters because it doesn’t shy away from presenting a modern family. The representation presented in Upside is natural. It felt like they were real people that did not have a single hindrance on living as themselves. The Peskin-Suso family is the sweetest. Nadine and Patty were the coolest moms who offer the most solid advice and support to Cassie and Molly’s troubles. They honestly deserve all of the happiness that was given to them in the latter part of the book. That being said, seeing Molly grow as her own person throughout the story may have been a bit of a pain especially if you know the feeling too well. But looking at the bright side, it will feel so good once you see how her actions affect her family as a whole.

It matters because it teaches the reader to love themselves. It conveys the message that through loving yourself, you can have the confidence that other people love you to the moon and back. That was the message that reached me, and as someone who is probably in the same department as Molly, it goes without saying that I felt that this book represented me. No more, no less.

*I loved the Easter eggs in the book. It can make any Oreo lover scream. 😉

What mattered to me is that The Upside of Unrequited made me feel that I was worthy to be a young adult heroine. Big girls like Molly get to be happy, and it gives a glimpse of hope to see a character like myself as happy. To be honest, nothing warmed my heart more than reading about Molly’s happiness. The way she grew out of her comfort zone and became her own person is one story that can put the biggest smile on your face.

Why read The Upside of Unrequited?

Like it’s older brother Simon VS. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Upside of Unrequited is a cute story about self-love and finding love. It also proves that seeing your family happy is the best. But what takes the cake (or rather, the cookie dough in the mason jar) is the love that you gain for another book that will make you want to love yourself. Highly recommended on a summer day while eating Cadbury Mini Eggs and in the mood where you just want something sweet.

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

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View More: http://thedecisivemoment.pass.us/becky-headshots

Becky Albertalli is a clinical psychologist who has had the privilege of conducting therapy with dozens of smart, weird, irresistible teenagers. She also served for seven years as co-leader of a support group for gender nonconforming children in Washington, DC. She now lives with her family in Atlanta.


To Becky Albertalli,

Since May is the month for moms, I want to thank you for the two lovely books that you have. It is truly lovely, and one can say that one them is like the story of my life. At one point, I almost wanted to just go ahead and call you “mom” on Twitter. The reason being is that you just shine and you’re so amazing.

Truly, no words can express how blessed I felt to have read your novels. The Upside of Unrequited really has a special place in my heart. You are a gem. I hope you are aware of that. Thank you for making me feel that I am represented. You are the best. 💙


Huge thanks to Jasmine at Jasmine Pearl Reads for letting me join this blog tour. Honestly, this gave me the boost that I needed to make myself believe that 2017 is better than 2016. All the love. 💙

Follow the rest of the tour:

Nicka at Read by Nicka [Review]

Inah at The Bibliophile Confessions [Review]

Fay at The Bibliophile Soprano [Review]

Josiah at The Bookish Fanboy [Review]

JM at Book Freak Revelations [Review]

Jasmine at Jasmine Pearl Reads [Review]

Now, have you read The Upside of Unrequited? How many crushes have you had? What body positive books can you recommend to me? Let’s chat! It’s been a while. 😉

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PH Blog Tour: Goodbye Days

Before Reading:

I have always had this soft spot for heartbreaking contemporaries. I do not care at all, because for as long as it hits me right in the kokoro (heart), I am all for it. Jeff Zentner made a lot of buzz last year because of The Serpent King. But sadly it was one of the books that I did not have the opportunity to read, given the killer time frame. But I thank the book gods for being so good to me, and PH bloggers for taking a chance on me. I don’t know what to expect really. I just know that this book will probably make me get a bucket. You know, so something can catch my tears and make me less of a mess. Kidding.

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9781783445516Title & Author: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction,

Year Published: 7th of March 2017

Series: None

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Source: Paperback, provided for the tour

Rating:  4.5/5 stars

Buy it on: Amazon | TBD

Summary:

What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?

One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.

The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.

Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

After Reading:

Tears, tears, tears, all of the tears. I just want to cry and hug all of my best friends. Especially my weird friends from high school. This book made me miss them so bad. Jeff has this weird way of getting you invested in his book because I was hooked when the tears started flowing. I knew I should have had that bucket ready. That was a bad move.

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It was probably because of a recent loss that made me resonate with this book so much. Maybe? Or maybe not. Goodbye Days is mainly a book that tackles grief, and the guilt that every person feels when someone dear dies. This book emotionally drained me, but it also gave me the feeling of redemption.

It is hard enough to lose someone, let alone the people that matter the most to you. Losing a second family can mess anyone up. And that is how I came to understand Carver’s pain. (Actually I am more comfortable in calling him Blade. The only problem is that I might cry just a little bit.) Goodbye Days captured the essence of grief: the long process of letting go and going on with life without the ones we love. In that grief, we encounter people who we can lean on. The people who understand the pain and who can help with the healing process.

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The book also contained slight glimpses of the past, in which the reader can picture what is was like when Blade’s friends were still there. It may have added to the heart-pulling, but it brought out one of the most beautiful friendship dynamics that I have read in a while. The Sauce Crew was the ultimate group, and like I said earlier, it made me miss my friends very much.

What I loved the most about this book is that it kept on reminding me that Blade was not alone in his journey. He may have had a few people breathing down his neck (but I mean, even I understood where those people are coming from), but at least he had a support group. Not only was his sister the best and essentially the most badass sister role model around, he had parents who will do anything for him no matter what happens. A friendship was lost, but another friendship was gained in the form of Eli’s girlfriend, his therapist, and Blake’s Nana Betsy, where the Goodbye Day surfaced.

To be honest, a Goodbye Day sounds like a good way to reminisce and let go of a loved one. But let’s be real here: if you ever plan to read this book, it is mandatory to have tissues with you. Also, please consider investing on a tear bucket.

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(Know more about my rating system here.)

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Jeff Zentner

Jeff Zentner lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.


Want to win a copy of Goodbye Days? Click the photo below!

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Hugs and kisses to Jasmine at Jasmine Pearl Reads for letting me be a part of this lovely blog tour! Thank you, for now I am a converted Jeff Zentner fan. Huge thanks as well to PRH Global for the review copy for the tour.

You see, I haven’t read The Serpent King yet. But I know I’m in for a ride. I’m not ready to have my feels to be messed up again, but I hope I could get to it really soon. But what about you? Have you read Goodbye Days or The Serpent King yet? On a scale of 1 to 10, how is your heart? Let’s talk about it!

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Timekeeper Blog Tour Kick-Off + Giveaway

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Wait, apparently it’s already November! I never thought that this day would finally come. If you have been a follower of my blog for quite some time now, I made this book club because I badly want to promote books that have amazing male leads. Now this has only been my dream for a while now, but thanks to Sky Pony Press, our book club is finally doing a lovely purpose.

I am more than happy to announce that for the next two weeks, some of the loveliest members of FBCYA and a few guest bloggers joined together to share their love for Timekeeper by Tara Sim. The tour will run from November 8 to November 16, and I hope you will keep coming back to this post as I will be updating it once each blogger has posted their review.

MC at Blame It On The Books

November 9

Michelle at The Writing Badger

November 10

Windie at Dip into Books

November 13

Christina at Books and Prejudice

November 14

Inah at The Bibliophile Confessions

November 15

Reg at She Latitude

November 16

Maan at The Pigeon Reads

November 17

Bianca at The Ultimate Fangirl

November 18

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Title: Timekeeper

Author: Tara Sim

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Teen, Mental Illness

Date Published: 1st of November 2016

Series: Timekeeper #1

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Summary:

Two o’clock was missing. 

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

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Tara Sim is a YA author found in the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not writing about magic, clocks, and boys, she drinks tea, wrangles cats, and sings opera.

Tara grew up in California, but braved the elements of Virginia to study English/Creative Writing at Hollins University.

Half-Indian and full geek, she eats too many samosas and awkwardly dances to Bhangra music.

TIMEKEEPER (Sky Pony Press, Fall ’16) is her debut YA novel.

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So to celebrate the release of Timekeeper, and courtesy of Sky Pony Press, we’re giving away a finished copy to one lucky winner! Giveaway is for U.S. and Canada only. (Sorry international peeps!) Click on the picture to be redirected to the giveaway link. Go go go or else you will miss the chance to win this lovely book. ❤

Are you excited for Timekeeper as I am? Honestly, I am still getting jitters since this is the first event that I have handled. But either way, I would choose Timekeeper. 🙂 Don’t forget to add Timekeeper on your TBR’s, okay!

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